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The Bloodline Feud: The Family Trade and The Hidden Family (The Merchant Princes) Paperback – 11 Apr 2013

4.0 out of 5 stars 29 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Tor; Main Market Ed. edition (11 April 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1447237617
  • ISBN-13: 978-1447237617
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 3.6 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 146,588 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Book Description

Miriam knows there’s no smoke without fire. And she’s about to get burnt . . .

Book Description

The Family Trade and The Hidden Family - The first two installments of the Merchant Princes series combined in one volume. Miriam Beckstein is a successful reporter for a hi-tech magazine. So when she discovers a huge money-laundering scam, she thinks she’s hit the big time. But when she takes it to her editor, she's not only fired, but receives death threats. That’s just the beginning. To distract her furious daughter, Miriam’s adopted mother unearths mementos from her real mother, murdered when she was an infant. But these reveal a secret that will ultimately throw governments into disarray. For what Miriam thinks is a simple locket has the power to fling her into an alternate timeline. In this less-developed world, knights on horseback wield automatic weapons, and world-skipping assassins lurk on the other side of our reality. Here, her true family runs a criminal empire – and they want her back. But Miriam has other plans. ‘A marvellous romp through this world and others, told by a master of the imaginative thrill-ride’ Karl Schroeder, 'A festival of ideas in action, fast moving and often very funny’ Locus, ‘This is a rollicking, pacy read' Interzone --This text refers to the Perfect Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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You can't gallop through these like you can the "Laundry Files" books for example, they're much too densely written for that. I've bought the 3 omnibuses in the series and read the first (this one), and stopped there for a week or two to give my aging brain time to catch up.There's just too much in them to take in all at once. Lots of characters, few of whom are what they seem, multiple universes, political entities, religions, customs, histories, etc. I guess you could call this fantasy more than SF because the only impossible gimmick (so far at least) is the universe hopping bit. All the rest follows from that in a logical but ever entertaining way. It has a touch of the still fashionable Steam Punk about it that adds to the appeal if you're a fan, but doesn't drown you in horse dung and coal smog if you're not. I can't say much more without dropping a spoiler or two, so if you like Mr Stross' work, and alternate reality stories, you can't lose with this. Get it!
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By far the most insightful look into the implications of being able to cross between alternate universes.

Its been done in the past but not with such an attention to detail or insight into the reality of human nature.
The subtopics are crime families/money laundering/economic theory. Might appear a bit dry to some but is kept lively with frequent assassination attempts and machiavellian politics.

Reporter Miriam is fired when her investigation leads her into the shady territory of corporate money laundering. Unfortunately one of the companies involved in the laundering owns her paper. When fired she visits her adoptive mother who gives her a shoebox of her birth mothers belongings. The box contains an amulet that when looked at ports her into an alternate world. That world is ostensibly medieval - but she is suprised when guards with machine guns try and kill her.

Her investigative instinct woken up by this encorages her to dig further and she soon falls int to the hands of a family using the ability to rule the medieval world. Their power is based largely on smuggling narcotics and importing technology into the medieval world to consolidate their power. Miriam is soon embroiled in the power struggles of 'the Clan' as they style themselves.

This collects works originally published as two books into one volume. It appears that the intention was originally for the series to be collected into works of this length. I think it shows - as both books together feel like a single story with a logical conclusion point.

The story is fairly straightforward as Stross goes. None of the dark humor of the LAundry files - or the whacky SF of his other workds. The only fantastic element is the unexplained world walking ability. Its a good read, with lively characters and reads as a cross between a crime thriller and a medieval period piece.
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It's a shame when a writer you've enjoyed produces a clunker like the "Merchant Princes" series. The problems aren't so obvious in this first volume but the whole thing suffers from being more intellectual exercise than passion project.

The series is essentially a portal fantasy and this first book is all setup.

We meet notional central character Miriam just as she accidentally teleports to a medieval version of north America, which turns out to be her original homeworld. She discovers she's one of the few inhabitants with the mutant ability to "world-walk", on which the ruling merchant class have built an elaborate dark-net style network to smuggle illegal drugs and arms around "our" world.

This first new world has a complex and not entirely coherent class and honour system. Women who can breed the ability to world-walk are in some ways regarded as property, which is offered as the reason Miriam was spirited away as a child and raised in "our" USA. These are the roots of the none-more-soap-opera complications around Miriam's love life and the alliances and betrayals involving her mother and her newly discovered uncle and grandmother.

There's some foggy material about a "lost clan" of world-walkers, which leads Miriam to stumble into a second parallel version of North America. This Victorian steampunk setting sets Miriam free of her cod-medieval chains of servitude, and she starts to build a life as a progressive modern business-woman.

Ultimately the "real" world is the setting everyone wants to escape to, mainly because it's the one that lets the writer indulge a Matrix-style fetish for vast amounts of shiny guns and reuse his Laundry series signature of cod-military CODENAMES IN CAPS.
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This is a terrific series and I am very much looking forward to reading the omnibus editions. They are the "director's cut" versions presented as originally intended (instead of being chopped up for a more mass-makrekt-format-friendly size as first published).

Please note that this book is actually softcover and is only about 600 pages. (That is to say, you can actually read it in bed rather than with a hoist.)
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This book is unbelievable, as are the 'rave' reviews. Whereas I think it could be argued that all stories are contrived, this one is done so in such as way as to be transparent and quite painful in it's exposés, pretty much throughout. There is no real suspense, and the editing leaves a lot to be desired: in several places it is obvious where txt has been deleted and the reader is left wondering in what context the dialogue is being submitted. The principal relationship, established pretty much immediately between two main characters is naive and unbelievable. The reader (well, me anyway) spent the whole book *not* actually believing it, which defeats the object of all the other poor efforts at subterfuge. Reasonably well written, poorly edited, not even vaguely a novel idea.
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